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Notebook: Ravens at Patriots


Kyle Boller may have had a solid showing against the New England Patriots, but that doesn't mean he will retain his starting spot.

The six-year veteran will be ousted by Troy Smith in the Ravens' home preseason opener Saturday, Aug. 16 at M&T Bank Stadium.

With the Patriots' Tom Brady watching comfortably on the sideline, Boller was clearly the top quarterback on the field Thursday night, finishing 11-of-15 (including two dropped passes) for 102 yards.

He added one interception and an ugly lost fumble, but head coach John Harbaugh doesn't count those two mistakes as reason enough for giving the nod to Smith.

The same goes for Smith. A few bad decisions next week won't negate his chances to start the year Sept. 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

And, rookie Joe Flacco's name is still very much in the hat. Flacco will likely get a start in at least one of the final two warm-up contests.

Harbaugh maintains that the quarterback competition is far from over and will continue to play out over the course of the preseason.

"What they do in the game is the biggest indicator," said Harbaugh. "That's not to say that practices are not important. I couldn't give you percentages and say 40 percent practices and 60 percent games or anything like that.

"Some of it is going to be from the gut on the part of the coaches, as well. In the end, we just have to go with the guy that we feel is going to give us the best chance to win the next game. If that's a gut decision, then that's what it is."

Boller helped build a 10-0 lead until he failed to notice linebacker Shawn Crable jumping in front of tight end Adam Bergen for an interception. That led to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal from 36 yards and Smith's first action of the year.

Smith went on to lead two scoring drives en route to a 5-of-12, 74-yard outing. His biggest play was a pinpoint 30-yard pass to Darnerian McCants over the middle. Smith's mobility was also on display. Playing behind a makeshift second-string offensive line, the former Heisman Trophy-winner had to buy a lot of time with his legs.

"I thought Troy was poised," Harbaugh said. "He threw some NFL balls in there. That ball across the middle in the fourth quarter was a heck of a throw. He scrambled around and did a nice job."

Smith is looking forward to playing behind the starting unit against an aggressive Minnesota Vikings pass rush.

"That's vital," Smith said. "It's very, very important for my development as a quarterback of this team. Getting the support from guys like Kyle and Joe is important, and it's helping all of us get better."

Flacco had somewhat of a rude awakening to the NFL. As the pocket consisitently collapsed around him, Flacco was sacked twice, fumbled and did not complete one of his three attempts.

Still, he knew he was getting thrown into the fire. According to the self-deprecating rookie, it was just a blessing to get his initial professional action out of the way.

"Just the fact that you are going to play against NFL players, that was just cool," said the first-round draft pick. "I think that is just a cool thing to me. You have to realize that you are one of them now, and that you belong here."

Figur This

Yamon Figurs shows his blazing speed on a regular basis, but Thursday, Harbaugh was more impressed with his patience.

Figurs set up the Ravens' only touchdown with an electrifying 52-yard punt return in the second quarter, getting all the way to New England's 2-yard line before being run out of bounds.

The second-year veteran caught punter Chris Hanson's boot on the Ravens' 46-yard line and began running left. Noticing that his blocking scheme wasn't set up yet, he hesitated a few moments, before turning on the burners at the perfect time.

"The wall wasn't there yet, so I had to slow up for a second to wait for the wall to get there," Figurs said. "They laid some great blocks, and I just took off."

Great might be an understatement. Brendon Ayanbadejo, Frank Walker and Tom Zbikowski all blew up their assignments, clearing the way for Figurs to accelerate up the sideline.

"We've got a bunch of guys who are blocking and so there's some room," explained Harbaugh, a nine-year special teams coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles. "The interesting thing about Yamon was that he showed a lot of patience on that return. He kind of let things settle. He wasn't in a rush.

"He found a crease and took it."

Figurs added a 48-yard kickoff return to set up Smith to helm a six-play scoring drive capped with Matt Stover's 44-yard field goal.

Mason Does Short Work

Veteran wideout Derrick Mason saw limited action, but he made it count.

He finished with three catches for 54 yards, including a 21-yarder on the Ravens' first offensive play of the game. Known as the mouthpiece of the unit, Mason was happy with the offense's performance in its first outing under coordinator Cam Cameron.

"We wanted to run our offense the way we were running it in practice and get the young guys some experience," he said. "We accomplished that but we still have a lot to learn."


Defensive tackle Kelly Talavou left with a shoulder injury, and linebacker Prescott Burgess said he broke his wrist…Ayanbadejo led the defense with eight stops and one sack…Nick Greisen, Gary Stills, Dwan Edwards and Amon Gordon also registered sacks, along with one sack credited to the team…Cornerback Ronnie Prude's interception with 1:50 on the clock sealed a Baltimore victory.

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